SPATHIPHYLLUM (peace lily)

10-13 deg C/50-55 deg F

This is a small genus of tropical plants similar to anthuriums, and also related to them. Two have become popular houseplants although they are unsuitable for chilly homes and grow better where there is adequate central heating with humidification. However, they are usually more tolerant than anthuriums..S. wallisii, from Colombia, makes a neat pot plant with brightly shiny green spear-shaped leaves borne spear-like on long stems and forming a clump about 30cm (1ft) tall or a little higher in well-grown plants. The flowers arise on long strong stems from about May to August and consist of an erect catkin-like spike oi’ tiny petal-less creamy-coloured flowers surrounded by a bold showy white spear-shaped spathe about 13 cm (5 in.) long.

A hybrid called ‘Mauna I.oa’ is a favourite. The exact parents are uncertain, although S. floribundum was probably involved. This hybrid is similar to S. waUisii, but the leaves are narrower and longer and the spathes larger, and the height may be up to about 60cm (2ft) when the plants are well grown. This hybrid, although a fine form, is not quite so easy and the minimum temperature of about 13 deg C (55 deg F) or a few degrees higher should be maintained if possible. Spathiphyllums must not be allowed to dry out at any time and a peaty potting compost with some charcoal granules added suits them. Provide slight shade and a high humidity in summer and spray the foliage with water from time to time. A position of good light should be found for winter and give a little less water, while keeping the compost slightly moist. Repotting is best done in spring and the plants can be propagated by division. They rarely have pest or disease problems, but deteriorate if chilled.

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